In 2019, I asked for your input through a reader survey. It’s time to do it again. I want to find out what is or isn’t working with this blog.
Since the first survey, I have been working on improving my SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and employed a copy editor who is fixing my typos and spelling errors. (Thanks Mum!) I have continued to write a long format post every week, and I included an additional weekly Photo of the Week post.
Have a focus on environmental issues, upcycling and how we can do better while using fewer resources.
Replace the Photo of the Week challenge with a mini-documentary of the week. This could be really challenging!!
Give quarterly updates on my Year of Zero (mainly to keep me accountable rather than entertain you!).
Continue to champion the life and times of older women.
According to my stats, I have more than 468 followers, an increase of 34 since the last survey. Despite this, I rarely get more than 30 views on each of my posts. Does this mean no-one out there is reading or are you reading via the WordPress Reader page? Perhaps you are reading in your email rather than on the browser? Apparently, you only get “views” counted in your stats if readers read your post on your actual webpage. (In which case, I’d appreciate you opening the posts in your browser so I know you’re there.)
I’d like to get an idea of who is out there and why you’re reading (or not reading as the case may be)
Can you help me out by filling in this survey? Thanks! 😀
If you live in Australia, you will get at least one 50th birthday present – guaranteed! Your bowel cancer testing kit will turn up in the mail! I put my first “gift” on the shelf and left it there for the next two years until I got another one at 52. I chucked the first one out and replaced it on the shelf with the new kit. After a few more weeks, I decided that it was probably a good idea to just get it over and done with.
There was no reason to delay, and I am not sure what my aversion to doing it was. I am not the squeamish type, and I KNOW early detection is essential. My tests at 54 and 56 were both negative, but this time round, one of my samples came back positive.
My GP and I discussed my risk factors and decided that I could afford the wait to get a place at the local public hospital rather than paying for a private hospital. I filed my papers and went on the waiting list. Now 5 months after the results and 2 months since my specialist appointment, I have my date for the “procedure”.
The positive result surprised me. My family has no history of cancer. Plenty of other things like Type 1 diabetes, heart disease, narcolepsy, dementia, haemochromatosis but no cancer!
I have always been a healthy eater, and over the last 2 years have been actively creating a healthy gut by feeding my gut bugs plenty of plant-based food, exercising, reducing my alcohol intake and reducing stress. My gut should be singing with good health!
Given I have yet to have the test, my gut may be very healthy indeed! What follows is a blow by blow real-time account. Don’t be prudish, this is what being older than 50 is all about! I am grateful I live somewhere with good free healthcare!
Preparing for your colonoscopy
There is a two-day preparation process. The aim is to clear out your bowel so that the colonoscope can see what’s inside your large intestine with an unobstructed view. The hospital or your doctor will give you some laxatives and tell you when to take them.
Two days before the procedure
Today is white day. My diet is usually a rainbow of plant-based foods. This made the list of allowable foods very unpalatable and alien. You can only eat white or yellow food. No seeds, no fibre, no colour! Only dairy products, boiled eggs, white fish, boiled chicken, boiled potatoes, stewed apple. Ewwwww! All washed down with plenty of fluids. As I ate my white rice with boiled eggs, I apologised to my gut bugs. Sorry fellas! You’ll be going hungry too! No fibre left over for you to munch on today! I got some yellow Gatorade in readiness for tomorrow.
At least I’m not hungry!
The day before the procedure.
NO SOLID FOOD today!
Only clear liquids. Tea without milk, coffee without milk, clear apple juice, Gatorade that’s it! I started to feel light-headed by 12:30. MAN! I was hungry!
Since my procedure is set for the morning, my first dose of PicoPrep is scheduled for 2 PM. I took the afternoon off work because I had been told some horror stories about the rapidity of onset. The Picoprep didn’t taste too bad. It was gritty and akin to drinking chalk, but it had little flavour. I sculled it down in one go and sat down to wait.
And I waited!
…. And waited!
As a good scientist, I took notes of my observations. Nothing happened till about 17:30. Two trips to the loo but things seemed “normal”. This is not too bad, I thought to myself. I waited some more and then the shit did hit the fan! Perhaps not the literal fan, but you get my drift!
Gosh, I feel like I am going to turn inside out.
My second dose of Picoprep is due at 20:00. Could there be anything left? This time it was harder to swallow. The novelty had well and truly worn off. I stopped feeling hungry, and I felt a little shaky.
After midnight it’s Nil by Mouth!
Day of the procedure
I slept better than anticipated, although, I needed to dash to the bathroom a couple of times.
Ten minutes after arrival, I was taken into the admissions area where my blood pressure, temperature, pulse rate and oxygen saturation were checked after answering the usual questions of name, date of birth and why I was there. The nurse and I had a chat about whether or not we had met before because she said I looked familiar.
Within 30 minutes, the anesthetist came and inserted a cannula in my hand and asked the same questions again.
Thirty minutes after that, I was taken into the procedure room, and the sedative was given through the cannula and an oxygen mask applied. The next thing I know, I was being shaken gently by the nurse, asking if I was OK, back in the recovery area. I could have gone to the moon and back for all I knew!
No pain, no discomfort, only a little temporary disorientation. Once my vitals were re-checked, I was moved from the bed to a comfy recliner where I was given some food and a cup of tea. My goodness that plain cheese sandwich tasted good!
The doctor who performed the procedure told me he had removed two polyps, and that I had a few diverticula, but nothing really to worry about. I will meet with the gastroenterologist in three weeks for the follow-up.
Another 40 minutes later my brother had dropped me home, and it’s all over. I’ll do as instructed and take it easy for the rest of the day, no driving, no making important decisions, no cooking(??). So here I am, in front of my computer chatting with you folks!
This friendly chap tells you how to do the poo test
If detected early bowel cancer can be treated in up to 90% of cases.
Talking about poo and having a flexible tube inside your intestines may not be a sexy subject to talk about, but neither is dying from bowel cancer. If you have access to early detection tools like the one offered in Australia, take it up.
Enjoy your birthday gift!
MARCH 2020 UPDATE: I had my follow-up with the gastroenterologist yesterday. During the procedure they removed 4 polyps (not 2). All but one were of no concern. The fourth one was of a type that can become malignant but is VERY slow to develop. I have to go and and have another colonoscopy in three years….so no rush!
Continuing on the theme of fires on the NSW South Coast. Once again this clip is from Narooma, a village about 4 hours drive from Sydney. I used to spend holidays there in my early 20’s. I have plenty of fond memories.
These areas rely on tourism, especially in our summer school holiday period so they will be doing it tough. The main crisis has passed now, but the people in this area need to put their lives back in order.
Support them if you can.
All footage on iPhone SMAX edited using iMovie on my phone.
With much of the south-east coast of Australia experiencing horrendous bushfires these last few months, I have been thinking a lot about my preparedness for a disaster. I live in a very urbanised area, a long way from any fire risk, but on the other hand, I do live in a zone that is affected by frequent flash flooding, and I am in the inundation risk zone for a tsunami if one ever hit.
The disaster may not end up weather-related, who knows? There could be a flu pandemic, civil unrest or an earthquake. Heaven forbid there could be a war or mass-scale terrorist attack. The IA bots might take over. At least in Australia, I don’t have to add nuclear meltdown to the list since our only nuclear reactor is small and is not used to produce electricity.
“We live in an era that, within 15 minutes’ notice, nuclear weapons could be crossing the continents bringing about great devastation. Yet we deny this, go about our business, we go on teaching, we drive our cars to work. We repress to the point where we don’t give it any real conscious thought.” Associate professor and author Mick Broderick in The Guardian 28/10/18 original article by Sarah Szabo
Endgame: how Australian preppers are bugging out and hunkering down
The disaster could come from anywhere and at any time, but there is very little gain in being in a constant state of high alert, that would be too mentally taxing. But it is worth thinking about what would you do to increase your readiness if anything does happen.
How to prepare.
You can’t be prepared for everything, but there are a few low-key non-stressful actions that could make a difference.
1. Know your risk
Where do you live? What are your local risks? Fire, flood, cyclone or earthquake? If you move to a new area, make sure you know what the most likely events are. Your local council should have Disaster Planning documents that you can read.
2. Have an alternate source of power for your devices.
In our increasingly technological world, many problems arise from power blackouts. We can’t communicate (for long), keep our food fresh, get fuel out of the underground tanks or even get cash if there is no electricity.
You maybe like me and run your car down to empty before you refill it. I heard reports during this current state of emergency this caused issues for residents who needed to be evacuated. Their fuel tank was near empty, and they did not have enough to get to the evacuation centre. As there was no power, there was no way to fill up at the local service station either.
It is vital to have a functioning mobile phone so that you can get fire alerts and other warnings. Without electricity, how will you keep your phone topped up? You can get hand-cranked chargers or make sure you have charged portable power banks.
If you have a BBQ with a gas cylinder, keep a spare or don’t let it run to empty. You might need it for alfresco meals and boiling water. You can at least fill gas cylinders up without power but not without cash!
So make sure you have some stashed emergency cash on hand – always! ATM’s and EFTPOS could be offline. No point having the Wallet App on your flat phone with no internet!
3. Have non-perishable food and a supply of drinking water.
Supermarkets on the South Coast of NSW were quickly denuded of fresh food. Deliveries could not get in to restock because the main roads were closed due to fire. Milk and bread were the first things to go. [After some thought, I wondered why people thought these were essential items. I’d be going for the canned baked beans, peanut butter and crackers.]
How long could you last on what you’ve got in your cupboard? I often joke with friends that I have enough food in my house to last several months. I would need to use it strategically, but I do have a bit put by. Not because I am prepared, but because I overbuy food. It turns out that may not be such a bad thing!
If you know the power is going to be out for a few days, make sure you use the food in the fridge first. Keep the freezer closed shut! The food in there will stay safely cold for a couple of days IF you don’t keep opening it.
Consider keeping a twenty-litre container of drinking water handy and refresh it regularly.
One of the things the “Being prepared for bushfires” pamphlet tells you to do is to fill the bath with water, this is not for you to get into BUT rather have a source of water ready to put out fires caused by ember attacks. For other sorts of disasters, it would also be useful to have a large, available source of water for drinking and hygiene. Consider filling up the bath in circumstances other than fires.
4. Have a prepacked emergency kit
An emergency kit contains things like a first aid kit, a flashlight, spare batteries, copies of important documents, extra clothes and a portable radio. This allows you to have everything in one place in case you need to evacuate or if you need to stay and shelter.
It may never happen, and you may never need it, but have a plan. A “what-if” plan? Talk about it with your family and neighbours before disaster strikes. Write your plan down. Keep it in the emergency kit. Keep a copy on the side of the fridge.
If something bad does happen, you want to be able to act quickly and purposefully and not dither about what to pack or where to go. Make sure everyone knows where your plan is and what it says. Consider adding a visual/cartoon-like story if you have little kids. Teach your children how to ring 000.
The NSW Rural Fire Service has a 4 step planning tool on their website, which could be adapted for other kinds of disasters. The NSW SES also has a step by step online process for floods, storms and tsunami available (most relevant for NSW residents) which could be adapted for other areas. Once you complete the steps, you can print out your plan.
“Prepper’s” online resources aplenty
While preparing this post, I went down a rabbit hole exploring websites of various “preppers”. Preppers are people who are preparing for the end of civilisation. Some are even going to the extent of burying food/supply caches in rural areas so they can “bug out” when the apocalypse is nigh. They call it the “SHTF” moment.
Survival Mastery suggests you be able to survive at least 72-hours holed up in your own home giving time for the initial panic to pass and the emergency services time to move in.
The ChilliPreppers is an Australian site that seems to be a moderate voice which provides links to a good collection of downloadable fact sheets on preparing for disasters from various government agencies. They are available free, and there is also a link to a download of what is labelled “Federal Government Disaster” manuals for $3.95.
My take-home message, as an Emergency Service volunteer, is to do more than think about a plan.Talk about what you would do in an emergency with your family and then put a plan in place.
You never know what may happen. Don’t let it cripple you with anxiety but believe me it’s too late when you can see embers on your lawn or when there is water lapping in under your door.
Last week I finished up a full year of a Photo of the Week challenge. In the spirit of adventure, I am going to morph this into a video challenge. I am challenging myself to create a short (1 – 5 minute) mini-documentary each week. Or as I like to call them Chookumentaries! (It makes me laugh!)
To get a head start I will use some archival footage I have shot “on location”. Some clips will have already appeared on my Facebook page, so apologies to those who have already seen them!
I will most likely knock them together with my iPhone and iMovie so they may be rough and ready. I’ll use it as an excuse to experiment with a few other video creation apps as well.
Wish me luck! The theory is that I’ll get better with practice! Oh and I’ll make a new graphic for Week 2, I wanted to use the same one for this week before heralding the change in format.
Koalas and kangaroos are being incinerated in front of our eyes. Not to mention the snakes, birds, wombats and less “cuddly” creatures that call our bush home.
The sky is smoky. Sometimes it smells, other times it doesn’t.
Elton John donated a cool mill (in US dollars or pounds I hope!) Pink has chucked in $500K as well. Russell didn’t go to the Golden Globes because he was preparing his home for the onslaught of fire in the area where he lives.
“Scomo”, as we rather unfondly refer to our current Prime Minister smells more than the rotting carcasses of the animals trapped by the heat.
Meanwhile some of us are volunteering as front line fire fighters or as support to those front-liners. Some of us are making wraps for burnt animals. Some of us are donating physical goods, food and water. Schools are getting stationary packs together for the kids in communities that have been destroyed.
Many of us are angry at our politicians and their inaction. Many of us are angry at the media who are misleading us. But we should be angry at ourselves too. We have a working democracy. We voted these people
in. We allowed them to change the media ownership rules. We allowed them to not fund NSWRFS or the NWPS by not voting them out.
Was it just complacency? Or were we swayed by the fact that we expect “others” to fix the climate. The climate is not going to change by government action alone. Of course, that is crucial but what are YOU going to do to do your bit?
It’s going to take a whole lot more than reusable shopping bags to fix this problem. What changes are you prepared to make?